Joe Wilson's Quarrels
By Garance Franke-Ruta
Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) on Thursday said his outburst before a joint session of Congress was "spontaneous."
That may well be the case -- but this wasn't his first public quarrel. According to a September 2002 report in The Washington Post (via The Plum Line), Wilson engaged in a heated debate on C-SPAN with Rep. Bob Filner (D-Calif.), in which he accused Filner of having a "visceral hatred" of America:
Filner, who opposes unilateral U.S. military action, suggested that in the 1980s, when U.S. officials sided with Iraq in its war against Iran, Saddam Hussein obtained biological and chemical weapons technology from the United States. "We gave it to him," Filner asserted.
"That is wrong. That's made up," Wilson fired back. "I can't believe you would say something like that."
When Filner calmly held his ground, advising Wilson to read newspaper reports and other documentation, the Republican erupted: "This hatred of America by some people is just outrageous. And you need to get over that."
As moderator Connie Brod sat by helplessly, Filner challenged: "Hatred of America? ... Are you accusing me?"
"Yes!" Wilson shouted. For good measure, over the next minute Wilson accused Filner of harboring "hatred of America" four more times, of being "hateful" three times and of being "viscerally anti-American" once.
And in 2003, Wilson, who got his start in politics as aide to Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.), angrily objected to Thurmond's daughter Essie Mae Washington-Williams coming forward after he died, calling the revelation "unseemly."
"It's a smear on the image that [Thurmond] has as a person of high integrity who has been so loyal to the people of South Carolina," he said, South Carolina's The State newspaper reported at the time.
Following public outcry, Wilson stepped back from his remarks, saying, "I have the utmost respect for Essie Mae Washington-Williams and wish her and the Thurmond family all the best."
September 10, 2009; 3:22 PM ET
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